Google Instant will save you seconds, but not for SEO

Real-time search will save users time, especially from mobile devices, but it changes how companies will do business online

Google unveiled on Wednesday its much hinted-at Google Instant, a search engine display that shows results as you type, even predicting what you want before you're finished writing.

Promoted as "faster than the speed of type," Instant will also be a game-changer for many doing business on the Internet. Google is using new caching systems and JavaScript to help browsers keep up, and displaying relevant research as typed so users can click through content and scroll through predictions. For the last few days, Google has been using bouncy balls and light gray text to highlight the new service.

It seems as if Instant is part of the new suite of services offered by Google in the last week, highlighting Google's dominance in the search engine industry as it now sells enterprise applications, such as Google Apps.

Although handy for most people, real-time search results will create a whole new plane for search-engine optimization.

"Google Instant means no one will see the same Web anymore, making optimizing it virtually impossible. Real-time feedback will change and personalize people's search behaviors," says PR pro Steve Rubel, on his blog.

This means that businesses will have to rethink their SEO and Web strategy to work the new system, although Google states that it won't change its rankings. Google is also trying to reassure advertisers that Instant will improve the "quality" of clicks on ads but promises nothing, saying overall that it may increase or decrease impressions. Wow, they really went out on a limb there.

I Googled my name and to start, just the letter "B" gave me five choices: BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), Bank of America, Best Buy, and Bing. It wasn't until I got past "Barbara E." that I could go beyond Barbara "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden and find articles written by me. What this shows is that large companies or celebrities will probably make up much more of the searches, and smaller businesses or brands will have to be searched specifically to be found.

Company names would also benefit from shorter sobriquets or abbreviations, because if a user can get to Amazon.com in one letter (that's "a,") your business may be best served with as few words or letters as possible. Those companies gifted with only one letter on the stock exchange will also be easily found. That means SEO could rely on letter rankings rather than word rankings in the near future.

Aside from saving users two to five seconds in search time, Google's new search tool may be creating a whole different climate for businesses, especially for those involved in e-commerce and online marketing. Expect to be hearing more as marketing professionals learn the new system and find ways to effectively use SEO. However, marketers will get a short reprieve before the new search is available on mobile devices or in different languages. Google says that it is planned in the next few months.

Of course, if a user types a whole query before pressing Enter, it's unlikely to change their behavior. But for smartphone users, whose keyboards are used as little as possible, the fill-in queries may be used more and may require all companies to look into how to game Google's new system--perhaps one letter at time.

Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter at @bhern.

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Barbara E. Hernandez

PC World (US online)
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